08/10/2020, 09.33
JAPAN-VATICAN
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Nagasaki Christians remember the victims of the atomic attack 75 years ago

The ceremony took place in the Urakami Cathedral, which was almost destroyed by the bombing of 9 August 1945. The city is the heart of Christianity in the country. 140,000 died instantly, among them 8,500 of the 12,000 local faithful. The Pope’s criticism of the use of nuclear weapons.

Nagasaki (AsiaNews) - Yesterday morning, with a ceremony in Urakami city cathedral, the Catholic community commemorated the victims of the nuclear attack in Nagasaki. On August 9, 75 years ago, at 11.02, the Japanese city was hit by an atomic bomb dropped by a US bomber. The air raid took place three days after the one on Hiroshima. After the double attack, the Tokyo imperial government accepted the surrender imposed by the allied powers, ending the Second World War.

A public commemoration took place together with Mass. Only 500 people participated, 10% of those who had last year, because of the prevention measures against Covid-19. In his speech, the local mayor, Tomihisa Taue, asked the government to take the initiative to ban the use of nuclear weapons.

At least 74,000 inhabitants died instantly in Nagasaki (140,000 in Hiroshima); thousands more died in the following days and years due to radiation and severe burns. These included the great radiologist Paul Takashi Nagai. Among the victims there were 8,500 of the 12 thousand Christians who lived in the city.

Nagasaki is the heart of Christianity in Japan. Between the 17th and 18th centuries, the city was home to many Christians persecuted by the imperial authorities. The Urakami church, one of the largest in Asia, is located 500 meters from the hypocenter of the atomic explosion. It was almost razed to the ground, and rebuilt in the following years. The head of a statue of the Virgin, scarred by the explosion, is preserved in the building (see photo).

Last year Pope Francis visited Nagasaki and Hiroshima, criticizing the use of nuclear weapons, which he considered immoral. The pontiff also launched an initiative in support of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), approved by the United Nations Assembly in 2017, but not yet ratified by many states, including Japan.

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